Example is not the main thing in influencing others; it is the only thing.
Courage to Change, Dec. 9, p.344
If I were to have a tombstone, that is the quote I’d want on it. It has been my mantra for, oh I don’t know, 15-20 years. Through my time in the rooms of recovery, I’ve realized how many examples have influenced me, good, bad and somewhere in between.
The folks to whom I’ve been most attracted are those who live principled lives…not perfect, but principled. Sharon has been writing about the Principles of AA; I want to talk about the principles that have become mine through the study and practice of the Twelve Steps, Traditions, and Concepts. But beyond having principles, it’s living them.
Mine include faith, trust, honesty, open mindedness, willingness, humility, awareness, acceptance, action, gratitude, attitude, and service. By keeping those front and center, my life is much more manageable. I’m grateful that I had these to guide me as I navigated the challenges Yellowstone presented.
I had faith that my Higher Power would be with me through the entire journey. I trusted that I had sufficient program to face the challenges put before me, so long as I used the tools. I tried to be honest in my dealings and open minded as challenges presented themselves. I prayed to be aware of my defects and assets, to accept what was presented, and to act when I thought it appropriate. By having an attitude of gratitude, I was better able to keep people, events and things in proper perspective.
Was I always centered and serene? Hell no! But neither did I go flying around the room backward. I took my inventory; I called my sponsor and recovery friends; I read our literature; I prayed and meditated; I tried to keep the focus on me and not on others.
Acting on principle is sorta like praying for me. It becomes a more conscious choice for me in stressful or unfamiliar situations. That held true in Yellowstone. When I was presented the opportunity to work at Old Faithful, when I was learning my job, when I was interrogated about the questionable actions of a fellow employee and friend, when my roommate was struggling to hang onto her job, when I was interviewed for a more demanding and higher paying position, when I was required to work in unfamiliar areas, when I got a new roommate for the last two weeks I was there, when I was dealing with a health concern, when I was met with financial shortfalls, each of these gave me the chance to act on my principles…not my inclinations.
For me, the nicest thing about being principled is that my internal life is serene. Now, that doesn’t mean that I never am anxious, make mistakes, choose badly, or hurt someone. It does mean, however, that I know I can recover from such missteps, let go, and move on. What a gift!